Gloucester Point in Gloucester County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Ancient Defender of the York
— 1862 Peninsula Campaign —
In June 1861, the Confederate Army fortified Gloucester Point by constructing a star-shaped fort and water battery overlooking the York River. The main battery was at the extremity of the point, its terreplain only two feet above high tide. It was a fully enclosed earthwork, 100 yards long and 75 yards wide. Its parapet was 7½ feet high on the inside and 20 feet thick, with embrasures for 12 guns. While the battery was under construction Gloucester Point came under fire from Union gunboats. The attack was repulsed and the battery completed
Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan’s concept to capture Richmond by way of the Virginia Peninsula was based on his ability to utilize the James and York rivers as avenues of approach to the Confederate capital. The emergence of the powerful ironclad ram, the CSS Virginia (Merrimack), blocked the James River to McClellan’s use and forced him to concentrate his army on the York River. When McClellan’s advance was blocked by Magruder’s 2nd Defensive Line, the U.S. Navy refused to make any attempt to run past the batteries at Yorktown and Gloucester Point. The entire 2nd Defensive Line was abandoned by the Confederates on the evening of May 3-4, 1862. Only then was the U.S. Navy able to transport McClellan’s troops and equipment up the York River to White House Landing on the Pamunkey River and continue operations against Richmond.
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Forts and Castles • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1861.
Location. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1376 Vernon Street, Gloucester Point VA 23062, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Still Defending Virginia’s Shores (here, next to this marker); Classic Camp Life (within shouting distance of this marker); On to Richmond! (within shouting distance of this marker); Where North Meets South (within shouting distance of this marker); The British Safety Valve (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Attacking with “Decisive Vigor” (about 400 feet away); A Vital British Outpost at Gloucester Point (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Gloucester Point (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Gloucester Point.
More about this marker. On the upper left is a watercolor of “Union Gunboats shelling Yorktown and Gloucester Point, watercolor by Lt. Robert K. Sneden.” – Copyright Virginia Historical Society, 1997.
On the lower right is a photo of “A 9-inch Dahlgren in the Confederate Water Battery at Glocester Point.” Courtesy of U.S. Army military History Institute.
Credits. This page was last revised on March 1, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 5, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,370 times since then and 27 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on May 5, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.